Wellstar Health System announced in a press release that they have begun administering the COVID-19 vaccine to their staff on a voluntary basis.
The press release is reprinted below:
WELLSTAR BEGINS ADMINISTERING COVID-19 VACCINE TO TEAM MEMBERS
Phase 1 system-wide distribution began today; Frontline team members participate in historic vaccination
Marietta, Ga. (December 17, 2020) — Wellstar Health System, one of Georgia’s largest and most integrated healthcare systems, received the highly anticipated first doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine yesterday evening and began administering voluntary team member vaccinations today at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital for those who meet the criteria for Phase 1 early doses. The first vaccine at Wellstar was given to Amanda Earley, who is a Critical Care Registered Nurse who provides care for patients in the Kennestone ICU, which has been converted into a COVID unit.
Earley, who has been a Wellstar team member for 3 and a half years and who works on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, signed up to receive the vaccine in the first phase due to her line of work. She shared that she wanted to get the vaccine because she has seen critically ill patients in the ICU who have been separated from family, which has been difficult to witness. She also shared that COVID-19 is unpredictable, often requiring complex care, and a vaccine will help decrease or eliminate the need for ICU care for people affected by the virus.
“Every day, I work with some of our sickest COVID-19 patients,” said Earley. “When patients are ill, having loved ones nearby can be healing, but that has been complicated during the pandemic. I am hopeful that people will have the same confidence I have in this vaccine so we can all move past this pandemic.”
Healthcare workers working tirelessly on the frontlines of the pandemic are the first to get the vaccine in the first Phase of distribution. The initial group of team members to be vaccinated represents a diverse crosssection of Wellstar employees from several departments, starting with Emergency Departments, ICUs, Urgent Cares, Skilled Nursing Facilities, paramedics (1st responders), and adult and pediatric primary care offices. Wellstar will roll out the vaccine across its 11-hospital system over the coming weeks and months.
“Throughout this very challenging year, I have been inspired by the many people and communities that have provided support, shared thanks, and instilled hope,” said Candice L. Saunders, president and CEO of Wellstar Health System. “We are deeply grateful for the diligent work and science invested in the development, testing, and distribution of this historic vaccine that provides a path to immunity against COVID-19. Our team members on the frontlines continue to work with compassion, dedication, and stamina to enhance the health and wellbeing of every person we serve, and we are all grateful for this much-anticipated moment of hope.”
The first shipment of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived at the Wellstar delivery point the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 16, with a second shipment anticipated to arrive next week. The Georgia Department of Public Health determines the number of vaccine doses, shipping and arrival date, and recipient hospitals. According to Georgia DPH, the state received approximately 84,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first allocation. Wellstar received 3,900 doses in the first shipment.